Cops in Prince George’s County, Maryland, have a proud tradition to maintain. In May, a former county officer was sentenced to 45 years in prison for shooting two furniture delivery men at his home last year, one of them fatally. (He claims they attacked him.)
In June, a suspect jailed in the death of a local police officer was found strangled in his cell. Authorities have no idea how that could have happened.
It’s unlikely Mayor Cheye Calvo of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, was thinking of his county’s behaviorally challenged boys in beige when he got home from work on Tuesday July 29, saw a package addressed to his wife sitting on the front porch, and brought it inside, putting it on a table.
But he should have been.
The mayor went into the bedroom to change his clothes. He was wearing only his boxer shorts when cops with drawn guns kicked in the door and stormed in, screaming. They shot the couple’s two Labrador retrievers to death and seized the unopened package.
Which contained about 30 pounds of marijuana.
Police now admit the couple appear to have been the innocent victims of a scheme by two men to transport millions of dollars worth of marijuana by having it delivered to about half a dozen unsuspecting recipients.
The two men under arrest include a FedEx delivery driver. Investigators say the scheme involved having the delivery man drop off a package outside a home where he believed no one would be home. An accomplice would then come by a short time later and swoop it up.
A furious Mayor Calvo said last week that he and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, are asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the raid.
“We were harmed by the very people who took an oath to protect us,” says Mr. Calvo, part-time mayor of the middle-class Washington suburb of about 3,000 people, who works at a nonprofit foundation that runs boarding schools. His wife is a state finance officer.
Mr. Calvo insists the couple’s two black Labradors were gentle creatures. He says the cops apparently killed them “for sport,” gunning down one of them as it was running away. Neighbors say the dogs were so gentle they rarely even barked.
“Our dogs were our children,” said the 37-year-old part-time mayor. “They were the reason we bought this house, because it had a big yard for them to run in.”
The mayor says he was handcuffed in his boxer shorts for about two hours along with his mother-in-law, and that officers didn’t believe him when he told them he was the mayor.
Prince George’s County police Chief Melvin High defends the way the raid was conducted, saying the dogs were killed because the officers felt “threatened.”
There’s a fresh excuse. One wonders if it might not be possible to recruit and train a few police officers who — suited up in bullet-resistant SWAT gear and brandishing loaded shotguns and assault rifles — could manage not to feel “threatened,” ALL the time.
Alternatively, perhaps the officers would feel less “threatened” if they stopped breaking into people’s houses and handcuffing them in their underwear on suspicion of possessing 30 pounds of controlled vegetables.
Police explain they’d been tracking the package that arrived on the Calvo-Tomsic porch — originally sent from Los Angeles — ever since it drew the attention of a drug-sniffing dog in Arizona.
Police intercepted it in Maryland and an undercover detective posing as a FedEx driver took it to the Calvo-Tomsic home — which explains why the real driver’s accomplice was not waiting to swoop in and grab the goods, this time.
The Berwyn Heights police chief says county officers had no right to enter the home without knocking. County goons reply their operation was compromised when Mr. Calvo’s mother-in-law saw officers approaching the house and screamed.
That could have given someone time to grab a gun or destroy evidence — providing their excuse for breaking in, county cops explained.
(Well, there you go: It was her own fault.)
Mayor Calvo says he’s astonished that police have not only failed to apologize, but have also declined to clear the couple’s names.
But that’s standard procedure, of course — holding the threat of prosecution over even the obviously innocent, to use as a bargaining chip should they feel motivated to file their own legal action.
The mayor’s lucky his home and bank accounts haven’t been seized.
Does anyone else sense a lack of proportionality, here? The customers who would have consumed that 30 pounds of hemp will eventually get their dope, somewhere else. Whereupon, stoned, they are highly unlikely to commit the kind of life-threatening mayhem in which the Prince George’s County narc squad indulged on July 29.
It’s only government agents who can engage with impunity in that kind of violence and terror.
Is there anyone who still doubts this blank check for murder and mayhem known as the “War on Drugs” has gone too far?
At the very least, any dogs belonging to those shooters should be taken away and offered for adoption into the homes of non-dog-killers. As for the officer’s children, let’s not be extreme: Perhaps it would be enough for Child Welfare workers to stop by their homes unannounced, once a month for the next few years … just to check.
After all, who knows when these violent men will next feel “threatened”?